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Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

Change We Can Believe In–Sure, I Got Four Quarters…

Strangely resembling the Montauk Monster, this creature whose marking resembled the word REFORM was washed up in Panama

The curious markings seemed to spell out REFORM...

(PANAMA CITY, PANAMA) A curious beast was found this weekend on the beach of Panama. Four teenagers first saw it and when the beast appeared to charge them, threw stones at it until it died. Resembling the Montauk Monster or a space alien, the creature had markings that amazingly seemed to spell out the word “REFORM”. “Of course, that is merely an illusion,” Professor Noitall said. “It seems to be some kind of stillborn animal fetus,” he continued in contradiction to the teenagers’ story. While some have suggested that it was the product of a sloth, Professor Noitall opined that it actually came from north of Panama, possibly the United States. “I’ve heard Reform is still-born up there,” he joked.
But it’s no joke for us. President Obama’s change we can believe in appears to be limited to four quarters on a dollar, since a dollar is about all the average citizen has seen from the bank bailout. “We’re going to close the loopholes,” the president said. And as Jon Stewart (congratulations on the two new Emmys) said, “You gave away 700 billion dollars BEFORE you closed the loopholes???” Steve Keen wrote a searching criticism of the bank bailout whose rationale could be summed up as “If the banks have the money to lend, more people will take out loans.” What people? The Unemployed or Underemployed? Fat chance, they only need the money to stay alive, not to run some risky investment scheme, they’ll never get a loan approved. The up-to-their-ears-in-debt middle class? They’re all cutting coupons out of the papers–the last debt they’re going to incur for some time was the New SUV they bought that gets 4 mpg better than the old one so they could take advantage of Cash for Clunkers. And the banks have already started back into the risky portfolios–didn’t Bernanke say that the recession was over? Partay, PAR-TAY! You get a bonus, You get a Bonus–it’s almost like Oprah was giving out new cars!
And what about that new Health Care Plan that Senator Bilkus–I mean Baucus–lobbed at us like a chimpanzee in a zoo? The Republicans don’t like it, the Progressives don’t like it, the only people who DO like it are the Blue Dog Democrats and the Insurance Companies that pay them. Real Reform–i.e., single payer–has been off the table so long it’s growing mold and Baucus even managed to substitute the unworkable cooperative for the best compromise public option–which the White House is still willing to give up for Republican support that it will never get.
I see a different analogy to the Great Depression. Bush wasn’t Hoover–he was Calvin Coolidge, the guy who said and did nothing and so allowed the Depression to get started. Hoover was the one who stayed with the “tried and true” to fix the economy–the things that didn’t work. And after four years, we elected someone who was willing to propose change–and had the balls to carry it out. You talked the talk, Barry–now walk the walk or you may find yourself walking in another 3-1/2 years–away from the White House.

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The Torch Has Passed, President Obama, Don’t Let It Drop

Kennedy passes the healthcare torch to Obama, who drops it in favor of compromiseIf you weren’t in a coma, or just weren’t paying attention because the Daily Show and Colbert Report were showing re-runs, you will have noticed that Ted Kennedy passed away from the brain cancer that has afflicted him the past year. Our condolences go out to his family and, indeed, to his larger family, the people of the United States of America. Kennedy wasn’t in politics for what he could skim off the top for himself. He wasn’t in it just for the people of Massachusetts, although no one worked harder for his constituency. Ted Kennedy was in politics to do whatever good he could for everyone in this country. Kennedy had a very “Catholic” attitude towards wealth–one that was shared by his two brothers, Jack and Bobby. God does not give you wealth as a sign of his favor, as the Calvinist would believe–rather, God lets the roll of the dice decide who’s wealthy and who’s not. His interest is, what GOOD will you do with your money? This is a lesson that frankly has escaped a lot of very wealthy people in this land–the idea that the wealthy have the obligation to use their riches to help others. They don’t have to impoverish themselves, but they have to leave this world a better place for their having been given the resources to do it with. We were lucky to have one such as Ted Kennedy to work for that end so hard for so long.
But enough theological speculation. Now we turn to the “What would Teddy do” game. Let’s name the health care bill after Teddy! HUZZAH! Now let’s try and pass it…huzzah… Senators on both sides of the aisle are starting to claim that Teddy would do–whoa, I stand in amazement–exactly what THEY would do. John Kerry has touted Kennedy’s willingness to compromise–a strategy that smacks more of Kerry than of Kennedy. Yes, Teddy would compromise–he’d also wheel and deal and he’d know when to hang tough and when to relent. Kennedy was not about compromise–he was about getting the job done.
But does the current state of the health care legislation really get the job done? When you look at it head-on, Obama’s negotiations with insurance companies and Big Pharma has resulted in a lot of empty promises. We’ll lower our profits by $80bn! Lower them from WHAT? What kind of profits did they expect to be making that they could toss that much away and STILL make ungodly profits? Then there’s the waffling on the “public option” which seems to be supported by the White House or considered “not to be a deal breaker” with each change of the wind. Without that public option, there’s no way to keep the insurance companies to their word and continue to ply business as usual. Then there’s Obama’s insistence on a bipartisan solution when the Republican party has declared that they will break him by not passing any reform. You can’t satisfy anyone who’s got their fingers in their ears…and their thumbs someplace else. Especially when they’re being egged on by Fox News and the goon squads who’ve been showing up at the town hall meetings to prevent any serious discussion, a la the brown shirts. Not to mention the revolt of the blue dog Democrats, whose campaign coffers have been heavily contributed to by the insurance companies for the purpose of stymying any real reform.
Heck, even the NYTimes is pushing for a majority vote so health care reform can be passed despite the bad faith and obstructionism of the Republican party. But, someone’s going to have to pull the blue dogs into line. That’s where we’re really going to miss Teddy–for his ability to pull the party together, wheel, deal, and maybe even threaten the recalcitrant to get into line. Obama wasn’t in the Senate long enough to know where the skeletons are buried and Harry Reid doesn’t have the clout. But unless the bluedogs are brought into line, we’ll either have a gutless wonder or nothing at all, which the thugs will claim as a win. The Ted Kennedy Health Care Bill? Let’s make sure it’s a reform that’s worthy to carry his name. And pass it. And that would be a fitting memorial to Teddy.

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Insurers Raise Cost of Protection Against Pirates–They Should Just Hire Ninjas!

Insurers offer pirates anti-ninja insurance

Insurers offer pirates anti-ninja insurance

Now there’s always been piracy in the South China Sea, but the Indian Ocean has had its share as well, especially in the Gulf of Aden. No one in maritime trading would have been surprised at the latest spate of incidents off Somalia, but the sheer audacity of the attacks is what seems to be getting the publicity. Now insurers have gotten into the act and have begun upping the premiums of anti-piracy insurance. I say, HIRE NINJAS! They’re cheaper than insurance and everyone knows, pirates and ninjas have a natural antipathy towards each other. Only don’t get ninjas from the school with Naruto in it. They might bring him along and then the only pirates they’d be able to protect you against are the ones from One Piece. Definitely not Jack Sparrow. (Hmmm why are they negotiating on Popeye’s old boat?)
Hmmm, but what if the insurance companies offer protection to the pirates as well? It only makes sense to play both ends against the middle–they could make money both ways. Maybe that would’ve helped prevent AIG from going belly up!

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